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The Follower
     

The Follower

4.4 9
by Jason Starr
 

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In this electrifying novel by award-winning author Jason Starr, a single woman in New York City finds herself the object of a deadly obsession…

THE FOLLOWER

With each meaningless date and disappointing new boyfriend, Katie Porter is becoming more and more disillusioned. No matter how wide a net she casts she can’t seem to

Overview

In this electrifying novel by award-winning author Jason Starr, a single woman in New York City finds herself the object of a deadly obsession…

THE FOLLOWER

With each meaningless date and disappointing new boyfriend, Katie Porter is becoming more and more disillusioned. No matter how wide a net she casts she can’t seem to find a guy who really understands her. But someone thinks she’s special—very special. And he’s watching her...

“A masterpiece.”—Bret Easton Ellis

Peter sees Katie at the gym. He sees her at the coffee bar she stops at on the way to work. In fact, he sees her almost everywhere, as he quietly trails her. But most of all, he sees her in his plans for the future. He’s got the proposal worked out, he’s even got the ring and their happy home already bought. After all, he’s had enough time to plan things to perfection—he grew up in the same small town. Surely, after all these years, he can’t let anything stand in his way…

“This generation’s Looking for Mr. Goodbar…crackling-hot.”The New York Post

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Extremely chilling.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times

“A masterpiece.” —Bret Easton Ellis

“This generation's Looking for Mr. Goodbar…crackling-hot.” —The New York Post

Publishers Weekly

Murder stalks a love triangle in New York City in Starr's low-key thriller, his most crowd-pleasing novel to date. Katie Porter believes her encounter at the health club with Peter Wells is total chance. What she doesn't know is that Peter once dated her sister back in her hometown and has elaborate plans to marry her, after waiting a couple of weeks for the perfect romantic moment to pop the question. And she doesn't have a clue that her current boyfriend, Andy Barnett, is ready to dump her. A "twenty-three-year-old single guy in Manhattan," Andy is a male animal on the prowl, checking out all the action: "The clothes were loose, but it looked like she had a nice body-thin anyway, which was all that really mattered." Starr (Lights Out) is a master at capturing the minute-by-minute lives of vacuous yuppies, and he absolutely shines with these characters. When Peter decides he needs to eliminate the competition, this Looking for Ms. Goodbarsuddenly becomes a very funny, dark social satire. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

New York's Upper East Side can be a great place to live for twentysomething singles-unless you meet that certain someone who turns out to be a psychotic stalker. Starr's (Lights Out) latest is a departure from his previous novels in several ways. First, it features a female heroine, Katie Porter, who has moved to the city to make a life for herself away from the Massachusetts suburbs and her inattentive parents. Her search for Mr. Right is complicated by the appearance of Peter Wells, a familiar face from her former small-town life. Peter's sudden interest is a relief to Katie, but his attentions soon turn her life upside down. The story also represents a change for Starr in terms of style and genre. Where his early novels were straight-ahead noir-crime, this is more of a character-driven thriller, exploring the relationships between men and women in a world of urban disillusionment. Luckily, Starr's trademark dark humor and sharp dialog remain in force. Recommended for most fiction collections [See Prepub Mystery, LJ4/1/07.]
—Ken Bolton

Kirkus Reviews
Starr's latest walk on the sour side stakes out his heroine between an insensitive lout and a murderous sociopath. Katie Porter isn't much of a heroine. She worries too much about her weight, is basically clueless about the New York types she dates and hasn't had much of a relationship with her parents ever since her college-freshman sister Heather jumped off a roof. But Katie surely deserves better than the two guys competing for her favors. Andy Barnett, a junior investment analyst with the soul of a frat boy, thinks of nothing but getting laid and impressing his porn-fixated roommates, and he has no more interest in reading Katie's emotions than in learning Sanskrit. But the real danger is Peter Wells, a stalker who's taken a job at the Metro Sports Club just so that he'll have a plausible excuse to meet the woman he's determined to marry. In the first, and funnier, half of this oxygen-deprived idyll, Peter plots to win Katie's affections, misjudging her actual feelings. Once Peter crosses the line to murder, Starr, true to form, turns the case over first to a loser cop with a terrible clearance rate, then to a preening narcissist who won't listen to anybody. As in his first seven novels (Lights Out, 2006, etc.), Starr updates the noir playbook by making every single character as unappealing as last night's cigarette smoke.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312944919
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
12/02/2008
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
6.82(w) x 4.18(h) x 1.03(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Follower


By Jason Starr

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2007 Jason Starr
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6165-3


CHAPTER 1

Peter Wells had never been turned down for a job. He didn't have to work very often, thank God, but when he needed work — and he desperately needed the receptionist job at the Metro Sports Club — he always got hired.

The interviewer, a musclehead named Jimmy, seemed like an asshole from the get-go. He told Peter to wait in his office because he was "in the middle of something." Meanwhile, Peter watched through the Plexiglas as Jimmy hung out by the front desk with another musclehead, the two of them hitting on practically every girl who passed by.

Finally, maybe twenty minutes later, Jimmy came into the office and said, "Sorry about that, buddy, it's been crazy here today," and sat at his desk.

"No, problem, man," Peter said, talking the way Jimmy talked, knowing it was a way to instantly connect with an employer.

Jimmy squinted at the résumé for several seconds, and then started looking at Peter's left ear. That was what Peter thought anyway; then he turned and saw what Jimmy was staring at — the skinny dark-haired girl in black bicycle shorts who was bending over doing a hamstring stretch.

"Gotta love Nikki," Jimmy said. "Comes here two times a day — uses machines, does cardio, must spend an hour on the StairMaster. Phenomenal body but, honestly, she's only average at this place. People say the best-looking girls are in the Village and the Meatpacking District, but I'll take the Upper East Side chicks any day. Watch the advanced step classes sometime. I mean, yeah, you got some girls who need to lose some poundage, but most of them are total babes. They all starve themselves, that's why. They eat salad and Tasti D-Lite for dinner every night, then come here to work off the calories. But, trust me, these chicks could be eighty-five pounds and you'd still wanna fuck 'em."

Peter knew Jimmy would be an absolute nightmare to work for, but keeping the act going he said, "Yeah, she's hot all right."

Jimmy, looking at the résumé again, said, "So let's see. You worked at Body Image in Santa Monica?"

"That's right," Peter said.

"How'd that go?"

"It went well. It went really well. But then they closed down so I had to leave."

Actually, Peter had never worked at a health club in Santa Monica. He'd never even been there.

"And you worked in Mexico?" Jimmy asked.

"Yeah," Peter said, "I was traveling a little bit, trying to figure out what to do, you know? I taught ESL."

Another lie, although he'd lived in Mexico for a while.

"At L'Escuela International de Guadalajara?" Jimmy asked.

"Hablas español?" Peter said.

"What?" Jimmy waited, then laughed and said, "Just kidding, man. I took it in high school and my dad's half Puerto Rican, but I can't talk for shit. But that's good — you're bilingual. You should talk to Carlos, trainer works on weekends ... So you got any more gym experience?"

"Sure have," Peter lied. "In college, I worked in the weight room a couple semesters. Volunteered."

Peter hadn't gone to college, but he doubted Jimmy would start checking references.

"Let's see," Jimmy said. "BA in English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Looks like you've been all over, huh? Where'd you grow up?"

"Massachusetts."

"Boston?"

'Lenox."

"Oh, that's why I didn't hear a Bahston accent." Jimmy laughed. "So you say you want to be a trainer, huh?"

"That's my goal," Peter said, although he didn't care what he did at the gym. He was planning to work there for a couple of weeks, tops, but he knew he had to show ambition.

"Well, this is a good place to work when you're going for your license," Jimmy said. "We're flexible if you wanna go to school, take classes, whatever. We don't give benefits for part-time, but a lot of people who work here start part-time and work their way up to full. But all I've got for you right now is a part-time desk job. You make sure people scan their cards when they come in, hand out towels, answer the phones ..."

"That sounds good to me," Peter said.

"It only pays nine-fifty an hour."

"Money doesn't matter."

Jimmy looked up, surprised. Peter wished he could take that back.

"I mean, it matters," Peter said. "Of course it matters. I just mean I want to work here to get some more health club experience under my belt so I can become a trainer someday. So it doesn't really matter what I make right now."

"I got ya, I got ya," Jimmy said. "Well, it looks like you've got the credentials and you're a good guy — if you want the job it's yours, man."

"I definitely want it."

"Great. I can only give you part-time — morning shift, six to noon — and you gotta work weekends. I can get you extra hours here and there, but I can't get you benefits and I'm gonna have to ten ninety-nine you."

"That's fine."

"You can work out whenever you want and I'll introduce you to the trainers — Scott, Mike, Carlos, Jenny. Man, wait till you see Jenny."

Trying not to roll his eyes, Peter said, "A babe, huh?"

"Fucking smoking," Jimmy said. "When can you start?"

"How about tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow works. Welcome aboard, my man."

Jimmy and Peter shook hands.

As they left the office and headed along the corridor toward the front of the gym, Jimmy said, "So where do you live?"

"Right around the corner," Peter said, "with my girlfriend."

"Yeah?" Jimmy said.

"Yeah, maybe you know her. Katie. Katie Porter?"

"She's tall, blond, nice shape?"

"Actually she has light brown hair and she's about five three. But, yeah, she has a nice shape."

"Nah, I'm confusing her," Jimmy said, "but if she works out here, I'm sure I've seen her around. But that's cool — that's real cool. You got a girlfriend belongs to the gym, you're living close by. So how'd you guys meet?"

"We grew up together."

"High school sweethearts, huh?"

"Yeah, kind of."

The musclehead Jimmy had been hanging out with before was walking by in the other direction.

"Hey, Mike," Jimmy said to the guy. "This is Peter Wells. He's gonna be working at the front desk and he wants to be a trainer."

"Great," Mike said and shook Peter's hand with a very firm grip. "See you around, man."

"Yeah, you, too."

Peter and Jimmy stopped near the entrance to the gym.

"I gotta hit the weights, man," Jimmy said. "When you come in tomorrow you can find me in the office and we'll take care of the paperwork and all that bullshit then. Sound cool?"

"Sounds cool."

"Hey, and you gotta introduce me to your girlfriend sometime."

"I definitely will."

Jimmy went back toward the locker room.

Peter was proud of himself. He'd hung in there, said all the right things, and he'd gotten the job. It was only a first step, but so far everything was going according to plan.

As he zipped his windbreaker, he scanned the main level of the gym. Dozens of overworked-looking twenty somethings were listening to iPods or watching TV while they worked out on the StairMasters and treadmills. Peter hadn't seen Katie when he arrived for the interview, and he didn't see her now, either. He exited the health club and headed downtown along Third Avenue, walking fast with his hands in his pockets.

CHAPTER 2

Andy Barnett was looking at the monitor on his PC, at the little digital clock in the lower-right-hand corner. He had plenty of work to do — a new monthly sales survey for one of the companies he followed was due tomorrow — but it was 4:22, and after four in the afternoon Andy could never deal with work. He wished he could go online — check out his fantasy football team or IM his friends — but the bank's system people monitored everything employees did on the Net, and this dude, Justin, who'd worked two cubicles down, had been fired two weeks ago for surfing on company time. So whenever Andy didn't feel like working, he couldn't do anything but zone out, staring at the monitor with an intense, focused expression, as if he were trying to solve some complicated problem, in case his boss or somebody else in management happened to pass by.

At 4:26, Andy's phone rang. He recognized his friend Scott's number on the caller ID. He picked up and said in a low voice, "Dude, what's up?"

"Chilling," Scott said. "Waiting to get the hell outta here."

"Me, too, bro. Me, too. What's going on later?"

"Some guys at work are gonna check out the happy hour at McAleer's."

"McAleer's blew last week, dude."

"Yeah, but it should be pretty cool tonight. My buddy Dave knows a girl there and she's bringing friends."

"Cute?"

"One's a babe, two're borderline, the others I don't know. But, hey, if the talent's lame, we can just hit Firehouse. Dave says there was a ton of tuna there last week."

"I don't know, dude," Andy said. "Maybe we should stay east. I mean, I can only stay out till like seven, seven-thirty tonight anyway."

"Don't tell me you're seeing that chick again?"

"Yeah, we're gonna go out to dinner."

"Dude," Scott said. "What's this, like the third time in two weeks?"

It was actually their fourth date.

"She's really cool," Andy said.

"Bro, how many times I gotta tell ya? You can't stick around, begging for it like a dog. If it doesn't happen on the second date, you gotta bail."

"What makes you think I didn't get any yet?"

"You? If you got some I would've heard about it the next morning. Hell, you would've jumped out of bed and called me in the middle of the night — Dude, I just fucked this girl. Really, I did."

Scott was laughing.

Andy said, "Look who's talking. When was the last time you had a girlfriend, freakin' sophomore year?"

"Yeah, but I got laid last weekend. I'm tellin' ya, dude — you keep it up with this chick, pretty soon she's gonna wanna take you ring shopping."

Drew Frasier, one of the senior analysts, passed Andy's cubicle.

"I better go," Andy said to Scott, nearly whispering, "before I get busted."

"So what's the deal tonight? You coming out with us or not?"

"I told you, I can meet up if we stay east."

"So let me get this straight," Scott said. "You want me to meet you for a drink at some lame East Side bar and blow off my friends and the hot, fuckable babes at McAleer's so you can take off at seven o'clock for a date with your future fiancée?"

Andy, used to taking crap from Scott, was shaking his head, smiling.

"Come on, man, blow her off," Scott went on. "You'll probably hook up with one of the chicks at McAleer's. Then, later, we're gonna hit this party on Broadway in the sixties. Cornell dudes are throwing it. It's supposed to be hot and you're guaranteed to hook up or at least get some numbers."

"Sorry, bro, can't make it tonight," Andy said. "But I'll definitely meet up with you guys tomorrow to watch the game."

"Yeah, if you're not engaged by then."

"Later, dude."

Andy clicked off and resumed staring intently at the clock on the monitor. At four fifty-nine, he starting putting on his suit jacket. At five, he was leaving his cubicle, heading toward the elevators.


Walking along Park Avenue toward the subway stop on Fifty-first and Lex, Andy checked out every good-looking girl he passed. He couldn't help it. He was a twenty-three-year-old single guy in Manhattan, and as far as he was concerned there were only two types of people in the world — hot girls and everybody else.

As Andy approached the crowded entrance to the subway, he zeroed in on a really cute chick with straight brown hair in black pants and a black suit jacket. The clothes were loose, but it looked like she had a nice body — thin anyway, which was all that really mattered. There were about five people between them as they headed down the stairs, but he kept watching her as the crowd moved toward the turnstiles. She swiped her MetroCard and went down the steps toward the jam-packed platform. He followed her as she wove through the crowd toward the end of the platform where it was slightly less crowded. When she stopped, Andy stopped, right next to her.

Every time Andy rode the subway, he would automatically zero in on the cutest girl on the platform and stand as close to her as possible. Then he would try to get into a conversation, or at least make a lot of eye contact, and then when the train came he would make sure they got on the same car. If things went well, he'd keep the small talk going, hopefully say a couple of clever, witty things to make her laugh — getting a girl to laugh was key — and then ask for her number. He'd gotten a few numbers on the subway, and even went out with this one girl a few times and wound up getting laid. But most of the time, he struck out. The big problem was that a lot of girls were paranoid as hell on the subway and wouldn't talk to guys, even though if they saw the same guys at a bar or a club they'd gladly talk to them then, because that was more socially acceptable.

Andy was looking at the brown-haired girl, but she wasn't noticing him, or at least wasn't acting like she did. A train pulled into the station and Andy boarded directly behind her. He followed her to the middle of the car and gripped the same pole she was holding, their hands inches apart. She was staring up ahead, as if she were reading the START AN EXCITING CAREER AS A DENTAL ASSISTANT ad over and over again. Man, she was even better-looking than Andy had thought. She had big green eyes, nice lips, and no zits. Andy always told his friends that the best place to meet girls was the subway because the fluorescent light was so unforgiving. If a girl looked good on the 6 train, she'd look good anywhere.

At the next stop, Fifty-ninth Street, the girl shifted her attention away from the ad toward Andy.

"Hi," Andy said.

"Hi" was by far the best pickup line, much better than, "Have we met?"

The girl hesitated, then smiled and said, "Hi," and looked away again. Andy knew he had his opening; it was just a matter of delivering the perfect follow-up.

People exited and entered the train, and Andy and the girl were squeezed even closer together. The train started moving and Andy waited for the girl to look at him again, and then he said, "Now I know what sardines feel like."

"What?" the girl asked.

The line wasn't that funny and he wished he'd said something else. He knew it would sound even less funny when he repeated it, but he did anyway.

The girl smiled and laughed a little, but Andy wasn't sure that she'd even heard him over the noise of the subway. Andy was trying to think of some other clever thing to say, but then the girl moved away toward the door and exited at the Sixty-eighth Street stop.

Andy looked around the train for more talent and saw a good-looking Chinese girl with funky glasses sitting at the far end of the car, reading a thick paperback. There was space in front of her, so, at the next stop, Andy casually moved over there. He tried to make eye contact with the girl but she was too engrossed in her book to notice.

At Ninety-sixth Street — Andy's stop — Andy followed the girl out of the station. Andy was hoping that she lived in his building so he could get onto the elevator with her or follow her to the mailbox area and say, Hey, didn't I just see you on the subway? a line that sometimes worked even when he hadn't just seen the girl on the subway. But at the corner of Ninety-sixth and Lex, the girl headed uptown, and Andy went in the opposite direction, toward Ninety-fifth Street.


Andy lived in Normandie Court, a complex of three massive apartment buildings that took up an entire square block between Second and Third Avenues and Ninety-fifth and Ninety-sixth Streets. The majority of residents in the building were recent college grads, which was why many people referred to the buildings as Dormandie Court. Andy lived in a three-bedroom apartment with five other guys and shared a room with his buddy Greg, a frat brother from Delta Kappa Epsilon at Michigan. Last year, Andy had had his own room at the frat house and he felt like he was taking a step backward in life, having to share a bedroom again, but he had little choice. Manhattan rents were so out of control that unless he wanted to move into some dive walk-up, or to an outer borough or Jersey, sharing was the only way to go. The rent on the apartment was $3,600 a month so Andy's share came to only $600, which left him with plenty of expendable income for beer and going out.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Follower by Jason Starr. Copyright © 2007 Jason Starr. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

JASON STARR is the multi-award-winning author of seven previous books, including Lights Out. He was born and raised in Brooklyn and now lives in Manhattan.

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The Follower 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a chick lit author, I love any book that begins with a Jane Austen quote. Especially one that¿s cleverly used, as in the opener to Jason Starr¿s psychological thriller, THE FOLLOWER. THE FOLLOWER is a dark tale about Katie Porter, and the man who stalks her, Peter Wells. Just one warning: Parents¿you may never let your children move into their own apartment in Manhattan after you read this! Starr does an excellent job of portraying single life amongst the 20-somethings living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan¿and then skewering it. I loved the irony of how Katie¿s creepy stalker, Peter, actually has many of the things that Katie would want in a man¿the expensive co- op apartment, the big bank account, and the subtle good looks. Starr is making a powerful statement about single life in New York City, what we think we want, and what we deserve to get. I was highly entertained by this book, and you will be, too. It was the first Jason Starr novel that I¿ve ever read, and I will be back to read more.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In New York City, Katie Porter is tired of being a swinging single as any male she dates seems to be a loser. Her current boyfriend Andy Barnett believes in partying all night while ignoring her needs beyond the physical he begs her to please go all the way for his satisfaction even as he plans to dump her. --- However, Peter Wells thinks Katie is the special woman for him. He watches her working out at the gym observes her stopping for coffee on her way to work and sees her everywhere she goes as he serendipitously follows her. Peter has plans for the love of his life to make her his wife having bought the marriage ring and their house. He takes the first steps by saying hello at the health club, which affirms his belief that she is the one for him. He has known since childhood when they grew up together and more so when he dated her sister unbeknownst to Katie. Nothing will stand between him and his woman not even randy Andy boyfriend. --- This is a dark satirical look at the lifestyle of Manhattan¿s swinging singles. Katie is a fascinating protagonist as she wants a boyfriend who cares about her Andy cannot resist the island¿s horde of beautiful available women as he wants all of them Peter is obsessed as he wants Katie even if it means eliminating his perceived competition. Though purposely somewhat stereotyped to the point of dark lampooning of the disenchanted, fans of urban suspense thrillers will appreciate this romantic triangle in which death may prove the only solution. --- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well thought out and organised. It could have had a bit more action because at times it was slow. The characters were well developed and quite lovely to read about. I dont think it deserves five stars, but it's definitely better than a four so I kept it as five. Definitely recommending it to my friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A she came in. She had black fur with silver patches, hence the name. Her blue-grey eyes looked around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont talkan Ggvvfghjklkk
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im locked out. But good book! Five stars. Yes, i read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Narrows eyes* Accepted for what? *How do you pronounce your name?